Photo: Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR: Roman statesman, lawyer and philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero once said the happiness of the people depends on each individual’s virtue and obedience to the law.

This statement shows that a happy society cannot exist and human relations cannot be formed without rules and laws.

In countries where law and justice are not given utmost importance, it is easy to see disputes and tensions which cause peace and harmony to become dangerously fragile.

It is not impossible for such a situation to happen in Malaysia and threaten the unity of the people if the rule of law, which is the fourth principle of Rukun Negara, is not being upheld.

Constitutional expert Assoc Prof Dr Shamrahayu A Aziz said the purpose of a law is not to punish but to maintain peace and stability for mutual benefit.

“In general, the government and the people are bound by law and must abide by it. This is the main principle of the concept of rule of law.

“All citizens are equal under the law, from commoners to top leaders. When the law is given utmost respect and priority, there will be no room for arbitrary actions,” she told Bernama ahead of the July 9 celebration of the 50th anniversary of Rukun Negara in conjunction with the Merdeka Month and National Day 2020.

The Rukun Negara comprises five principles, namely Belief in God; Loyalty to King and Country; Supremacy of the Constitution; Rule of Law; and Courtesy and Morality.

It was declared on Aug 31, 1970, by the fourth Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the late Tuanku Ismail Tuanku Nasirudin Shah with the aim to foster unity among the multi-racial people in Malaysia following the May 13 riots in 1969.

Elaborating on the fourth principle of Rukun Negara, Shamrahayu said the people of Malaysia have been seen as a society whose members are ready to stand in solidarity to face any challenges that come their way, which has been the key to the peace and harmony they enjoyed thus far.

She said this was evident when the movement control order (MCO) was enforced since March 18 to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

“It is something for Malaysians to be proud of. The moment the government enforced the MCO, almost everyone in the country obeyed the order. This shows that our society understands the good purpose of the law, making it easy to be obeyed,” she said.

Shamrahayu said that effective communication between the leaders and the people is also an important mechanism in the implementation of the law.

“Both sides are free and have proper channels to voice out their opinions about each other. Only through this concept can we attain a nation as envisaged in the Rukun Negara,” she said, adding that the rule of law is also the principle that binds the people to stand viable with mutual respect for each other.

Meanwhile, former Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan said the country’s constitution and its laws must be understood and obeyed to avoid tension, dissatisfaction, and disputes, especially involving inter-racial relations in the country.

“Rukun Negara is a philosophy that is vital in shaping the future of the country.

“If the five principles are not respected, the democratic institutions in our country will collapse and people’s unity will be destroyed,” he said.

Musa said leaders in this country must set a good example to foster unity among the people while upholding the rule of law.

“This attitude of upholding the rule of law must be inculcated among the leaders so that society can emulate their good example, because if they do otherwise, how can the people follow suit?

“Good leaders lead by example,” he said. – Bernama